05-10 OD teen volunteers

A First Guide teen volunteer shows a turtle shell to visitors at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. (Courtesy photo)

HOLDERNESS — Volunteers of all ages help in many ways at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Volunteers donate over 8,000 hours of their time, and teen volunteers especially benefit from learning new skills, time management, and decision-making. Teens who volunteer have a better sense of their community and how they are a part of it.

In 2009, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center launched the First Guides teen volunteer program, based on the adult docent program. During the summer, teens between the ages of 14-17 learn how to guide visitors on the live animal exhibit trail, often demonstrating animal artifacts alongside adult volunteer docent mentors with live animals. Over 100 teens have participated in the First Guides program since it began and many have returned to become adult docents.

Last summer, a Community Action Program was added to the curriculum. First Guides were introduced to several local environmental actions, including trail maintenance and invasive species removal tasks through Squam Lakes Association, the annual loon census through the Loon Preservation Committee, bat counts at the Science Center for the New Hampshire Bat Colony Count, and invasive plant removal at the Science Center. First Guides have the opportunity to record their experience and share their stories through visual and written works. As a result of the program, Volunteer Manager Carol Raymond was accepted into the North American Association of Environmental Educators ee360 Fellowship for leadership training and to further develop this aspect of the First Guides program.

For the 2019 season, thanks to a grant from ee360, EVP Marketing & Media will train First Guides in videography. The grant also covered the purchase of camera equipment. Learning videography skills will enable teen volunteers to visually record their Community Action projects, present their projects to visitors, and to participate in formal presentations to their families and other volunteers.

First Guide training will take place June 26, June 27, June 28, and July 1. For more information or to register, contact Volunteer Manager Carol Raymond at 603-968-7194, ext. 22 or carol.raymond@nhnature.org.

For more information about the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, call 603-968-7194, or visit www.nhnature.org.

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